Sunday, March 15, 2009

Jesus Calms the Storm

[Today we will think about spiritual maturity and what that would look like in the life of a believer.]

Mark 4

35 On the same day, when evening had come, He said to them, "Let us cross over to the other side."

[Jesus had spent the day preaching and was probably looking to get away from the crowds for a little while to rest and be renewed spiritually. The disciples likely thought this was a simple task after all they had 4 experienced fishermen to guide them safely across.]

36 Now when they had left the multitude, they took Him along in the boat as He was. And other little boats were also with Him.

[So when they left they were not entirely successful in leaving the crowd behind as some smaller boats attempted to follow. People were truly yearning for the ministry of Jesus. The phrase "as He was" indicates they made no special preparation for the crossing they just got in the boat and left.]

37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling.

[Since mountains run alongside the sea of Galilee, it would be very easy for a squall to drop down quickly without notice. The wind and rain was such that the waves were entering the boat and it was filling with water. No other mention is made of the small boats so I presume that they turned back when the storm came up. But the larger boat navigated by professionals continued on, and was now in danger of sinking.]

38 But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, "Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?"

[What an odd situation. The only time in Jesus ministry that the Bible mentions he was sleeping, and it's in the middle of a violent storm. Many times when the disciples slept Jesus would pass the time in prayer, apparently preferring to be restored in his spirit more than in his body. But on this night he slept, until fishermen at the point of panic awoke the carpenter and asked him to save them, even trying to invoke a sense of guilt. Don't you care? How do you sleep in a storm like that? You sleep, with the calm assurance that the Father is watching out for you.]

39 Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, "Peace, be still!" And the wind ceased and there was a great calm.

[Now if someone interrupts my nap I do not always awaken calmly. I may get up a little grumpy, even irritated. But the internal peace that belonged to Jesus, became the external calm when he rebuked the storm. "Peace, be still." Many times I've tried to calm raging children, with mixed results. But Jesus calmed the storm, with a simple call for peace, and the storm obeyed.]

40 But He said to them, "Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?" 41 And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, "Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!"

[First he rebukes the storm, then he rebukes his disciples. "Why are you filled with fear?" "How is it that you have no faith?" First they were afraid of the storm, now they are afraid of Jesus because they realized this guy can even control the weather! But is fear really that bad? At least when they were fearful, they reached out to Jesus, right?]

Philippians 4

6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

["Why did you fear, where was your peace?" Jesus didn't say "Let's try to cross the sea". He didn't call the fishermen to his side and say "Give it your best shot". He said "Let us cross over to the other side". The problem was not that they were unwilling to cross, but they were unwilling to endure the storm. They allowed circumstances to dictate whether they would obey the command of God by faith, or shrink from their calling when faced with adversity. You see, a bigger storm was coming. After Jesus was resurrected these fearful men would lead the New Testament Church against the forces of evil, a rebellious priesthood, and a hostile government, in an unbelieving world. They would face personal peril again, and again, and most would die for preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. How can someone endure such a storm, only by faith.]

Hebrews 11 (also known as the roll-call of faith)

32 And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: 33 who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. 35 Women received their dead raised to life again. [So far so good, have faith and good things happen. Keep reading]
Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. 36 Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented— 38 of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.

[You've all heard the prosperity preachers tell you that you can have anything you want if you just have enough faith. I wonder who wanted to be sawn in two? Maybe Paul was shipwrecked, beaten, imprisoned and killed because he had too little faith. Or perhaps when we care more for the will of God, than our own desires, we will be asked to weather the storm. You see the people you tell about God when the sun is shining are waiting to see how you endure when the storm comes. Sadly too many so-called Christians care more for their personal comfort and safety than the so for the lost souls of the world.

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